Jesus gave us the model for how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4). Last night on the way home from a meeting I heard a sermon on the radio from John MacArthur of Grace to You that I want to share a portion of below after the KJV of The Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Everything in this prayer, seeks to glorify God, seeks to lift up His name, seeks to exalt His holiness. That’s the purpose of all prayer. If you think prayer is for you, you’ve missed the point. That’s why we get so messed up. We’re praying for ourselves. We don’t take into account the whole community of faith, and we don’t take into account the whole will of God in the parameters of His own kingdom. Samuel Zwemmer writes about this prayer, this word, “Every possible desire of the praying heart is contained in this. It contains a whole world of spiritual requirements. It combines in simple language every divine promise, every human sorrow and want, and every Christian longing for the good of others.”
The prayer focuses on God. In John 14 Jesus said, “Ask anything in my name and I will do it in order that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” The reason you pray and the reason God answers is to put Himself on display, to put His glory on display.
People believe it’s a prayer to be recited, but I don’t believe that. I’ll give you several reasons. Number one, this prayer is recorded twice in the Scripture; once in Matthew 6, once in Luke 11, and it differs in both places. It is substantially the same, but the words are different. If the Lord was giving us a prayer to be memorized and recited, He wouldn’t have given us different words the two times he gave it, right?
Secondly, in Luke 11 they said, “Teach us to pray.” They didn’t say, “Teach us a prayer.” The Lord was not giving them a prayer, He was teaching them to pray. By the way, wouldn’t it seem a little silly if verse 7 says, “And when you pray, use not vain repetition as the pagan,” and then immediately follow it by giving us a prayer we’re supposed to repeat? It is vain repetition He is trying to avoid.
I have in front of me some sermon notes; it’s a skeleton. I’ve got to put flesh and bones on it. I’ve got to make it live. And what Jesus is giving here is prayer outline. Here are the basic elements of prayer. You have to develop this into its meaningful expression in every different situation. This is a model for every prayer ever prayed. This is the skeleton on which you can hang every prayer you ever pray. This is the pattern for all praying.
One way to look at this prayer it unfolds the relationship that we have with God, and it hits it so many ways it’s just staggering. For example, it says, “Our Father.” That means that we have a father-child relationship with God. It says, “Hallowed be thy name.” We have a deity and worshiper relationship with God. It says, “thy kingdom come.” We have a sovereign and a subject relationship with God. It say, “thy will be done.” We have a master and a servant relationship with God. It says, “give us our daily bread.” We have a benefactor and a beneficiary relationship with God. It says, “forgive us our trespasses or our debts.” We have a savior-sinner relationship with God. It says, “lead us not into temptation.” We have a guide and a pilgrim relationship with God. We could study this prayer in just that way. How does it show our relationship to God?
It defines the spirit in which we’re to pray. What is to be our attitude as we pray? First of all, it says, “our.” That’s an unselfish spirit. Then it says, “Father,” that’s a family spirit. Then it says, “hallowed be thy name,” a reverent spirit. “Thy kingdom come,” a loyal spirit. “Thy will be done,” a submissive spirit. “Give us our daily bread,” a dependent spirit. “Forgive us our trespasses,” a penitent spirit. “Lead us not into temptation,” a humble spirit. “Thine is the kingdom,” a confident spirit. “And the power,” a triumphant spirit. “And the glory,” an exultant spirit.
This prayer model sets God in his rightful place. First, when you pray you set God in His rightful place, and then everything else flows out of it. All prayer is to begin with the character of God: Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done. And then what follows? God is in His supreme place, and when God is first, prayer makes sense. This prayer could be divided simply into three elements, and then three more elements. The first three deal with God, the second three with man. The first three, God’s glory; the second three, man’s need. The first three, the glory of God, “hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” that’s the glory of God. The second three, man’s need; “give us our daily bread, forgive us our debts, and lead us not into temptation.”
This prayer model shows the purpose of prayer. Number one, to hallow the name of God; number two, to bring in His kingdom; number three, to do His will. That’s the purpose of prayer. “Oh God, I’m coming to you in order that your name might be hallowed, in order that your kingdom might come, in order that your will might be done.” And what is the means? What does it mean by which His name is hallowed, His kingdom is lifted up, and His will is done? First, by giving us our daily bread, that’s provision. Second, by pardoning our sins, that’s pardon. Third, by leading us not into temptation, that’s protection. As God provides, pardons, and protects He consequently is exulted in His glory, in His kingdom and in His will.
The elements, the wonders, the beauties of this particular model of prayer are almost infinite. Only the mind of God could have conceived such far reaching, incredible thoughts to be compressed into this little tiny section of Scripture. No man could ever have done it.
Prayer is never an attempt to bend the will of God to my desire. Prayer is to bend me to fit the will of God.
When I acknowledge God as sovereign, and when I say, “God, give me my daily bread only if it gives you your hallowed name; God, may my sins be pardoned only if that exalts your kingdom; and God, lead me not into temptation if that lets you be the master in my life.” For in all things when it’s said and done the purpose of all prayer is at the end of verse 13, “for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” That’s the point.
And that’s the affirmation of the disciples’ prayer. That’s the way we want to look at it. It begins with, “Our Father who art in heaven,” adoring God. It ends with, “For thine is the kingdom, the power, the glory forever,” adoring God again. In the middle, everything in it is about God. What you’re doing is submitting to His sovereignty.
“Our Father who art in heaven,” that’s God’s paternity. “Hallowed be thy name,” that’s God’s priority. “Thy kingdom come,” that’s God’s program. “Thy will be done,” that’s God’s purpose. “Give us this day our daily bread,” that’s God’s provision. And, “forgive us our debts,” that’s God’s pardon. “And lead us not into temptation,” that’s God’s protection. And, “thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever,” that’s God’s preeminence. And all prayer, Jesus is saying, is not to stand in the streets, and the corners of the streets to pray to be heard by men, to get glory for yourself, but all prayer is by absolute contrast to bring glory to God.